11 Of the Most Beautiful White Horse Breeds (History)

beautiful white horse breeds running in the river

There’s something unmistakably captivating about white horse breeds.

Their outstanding beauty makes it easy to see why they are so popular among equine lovers.

Below, we’ll take a deep dive into all of the different ivory-colored steeds and learn everything there is to know about them.

Let’s jump right in…

1. American Cream Draft

  • Coat: Light cream to dark cream
  • Demeanor: Calm and willing
  • Height: 15 – 16.3 hands tall
  • Great for: Driving and other draft horse activities

The American Cream is the only draft horse breed that originates in the United States.

The American Cream breed dates back to the early 1900s and a mare named “Old Granny.” 

She had a cream coat, white mane and tail, pink skin, and amber eyes, three defining traits of an American Cream horse.

The breed almost became extinct with the mechanization of agriculture and the reduced need for them to pull supply wagons.

Even today, American Creams exist in relatively low numbers.

The good news is that numbers are now on the rise, so the future looks rosy for the American Cream and white horse breeds.

Next up, another rare white draft horse…

Don’t forget to also check our guide on the best horse breeds for first-time owners!

2. Boulonnais

  • Coat: Light gray to dark, dappled gray
  • Demeanor: Sociable and easy going
  • Height: 14.3 – 16.3 hands
  • Great for: Driving, riding, and showing

Known also as the “White Marble Horse,” the Boulonnais is a draft horse breed originating in France sometime before the Crusades.

An article featured on the Globe Trotting blog explains that the Boulonnais flourished as a war horse with the French Army.

The breed was enhanced and strengthened by introducing Arabian, Andalusian, Mecklenburg, and Spanish Barb bloodlines.

Sadly, Boulonnais horses are bred mainly for meat. The good news is that this market is in steep decline.

Numbers are low, but the French have developed a breeding program to cross Boulonnais and Arabian horses to create the Araboulonnais. 

This will also result in new Boulonnais bloodlines, helping to keep one of the great French draft breeds alive.

READ MORE: Clydesdale Vs Belgian Horses

3. Camargue Horse

  • Coat: White / Light gray
  • Demeanor: Even, sturdy and brave
  • Height: 13 – 14 hands in height
  • Great for: Endurance and trail riding

The Camargue is one of the oldest horse breeds in existence. They have existed since prehistoric times.

The Camargue is a wild horse native to a region in Southern France of the same name.

Entire herds of these types of horses still exist in the wild, but they have also been successfully domesticated and are ridden in various disciplines.

Camargue horses are born brown and don’t fully develop their iconic white coat color until around four years of age.

Unlike a true white horse, Camargues have black skin.

Consistent with the breed’s age, the Camargue has primitive features, including a large square head and a heavy tail and mane.

From one of the oldest white horse breeds to one of the youngest…

4. Camarillo White Horse

  • Coat: White
  • Demeanor: Lively and willing
  • Height: 14.2 – 17 hands
  • Great for: Riding, shows, and parades

The Camarillo White Horse breed is 100 years old and has its origins in Camarillo, California, in the United States.

Alfredo Camarillo started the breed in 1921 with a white stallion named Sultan. He never sold any of the horses but would occasionally part with one as a gift or prize.

The Camarillo White Horses were a frequent feature in parades, and they grew to be famous across the state.

Following a public auction in 1987, the Camarillo White Horses were sold off and spread throughout the country.

The first time they had been sold to a person outside of the Camarillo family.

The Camarillo White Horse Association was founded at the end of the 20th Century in an attempt to save the breed from extinction. In 2010 the body reports that there were only 20 known living examples.

Time to visit one of the smaller white horse breeds…

5. Connemara Pony

  • Coat: Light gray, black, bay, brown, and chestnut
  • Demeanor: Gentle, sensible, and willing.
  • Height: 13 – 15 hands tall
  • Great for: Pretty much everything

Connemaras are a highly versatile sporting breed that can do it all.

Legend has it that in the 16th Century, Spanish horses swam to shore as the Armada sank off the coast of Connemara, Ireland.

They bred with the native wild mountain ponies and learned to live in the harsh environment.

The Connemara is the largest breed of pony and the only breed native to Ireland.

Initially used as an all-around workhorse, poor farmers would often capture and tame a wild pony.

Today, breeders worldwide have taken to this, do it all pony; a true testament to their popularity and versatility.

Connemaras are a well-respected, highly adaptable pony breed successful in various equestrian sports despite their average height.

Now for one of the best known white horse breeds…

6. Lipizzan

  • Coat: White (At maturity) and black 
  • Demeanor: Intelligent and docile
  • Height: 14.2 – 15.2 hands
  • Great for: Riding, dressage, and driving

The Lipizzan is the breed of choice at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. 

The Lipizzans’ physique and intelligence allow them to perform the most challenging dressage steps, including the highly demanding Airs Above the Ground.

The breed takes its name from the stud farm in Lippiza, now known as Lipica in Slovenia, where the breed originated. They’re also known as Lipizzaners in Europe.

Lipizzan foals don’t start life with a white coat; they are born with dark coats that lighten over time. This process can take anywhere between 6 and 10 years. 

7. Orlov Trotter

  • Coat: Light gray, black, bay, and chestnut
  • Demeanor: Agreeable and intelligent
  • Height: 15.2 – 17 hands in height
  • Great for: Driving and riding

The Orlov Trotter is the most famous horse breed in Russia.

Count A.G. Orlov started developing this breed, favored by Russian Nobility, in the latter part of the 18th Century. 

He wanted a horse with speed and endurance that could survive the unforgiving Russian climate. Crossing European mares and Arabian stallions, Orlov was successful in his mission. 

The Orlov Trotter served well in farm work, transportation, and harness racing.

Only American Standardbred horses proved to be faster in races, which led to the cross-breeding of the two to create the Russian Trotter.

The ongoing survival of the Orlov Trotter is in the hands of the 12 Russian and 3 Ukrainian stud farms that continue to breed them today.

8. Percheron

  • Coat: Light gray, black, and bay
  • Demeanor: Intelligent and willing
  • Height: 15 – 19 hands
  • Great for: Driving and riding

The Percheron is a strong and versatile draft horse.

They have the strength to pull hefty loads, the grace for carriage work, and can even jump well in some cases.

The story of the Percheron starts in Le Perche, France, and dates back to a time before breeders kept any useful records.

The breeders in Le Perche adapted their breeding program to the requirements of the age.

Heavy cavalry war horses, coach pullers, and eventually large draft horses.  

America imported Percherons in huge numbers in the latter part of the 19th Century.

Numbers dwindled significantly as a result of mechanization and two world wars. Indeed, records suggest as few as 85 horses remained at one point.

The Percheron breed has made a remarkable recovery in more modern times, so this breed looks set to thrive well into the future.

9. American Quarter Horse

  • Coat: Light gray (white), sorrel, black, bay, brown, and many more
  • Demeanor: Gentle, calm, and intelligent
  • Height: 14 – 16 hands tall
  • Great for: Racing, working livestock, rodeo, jumping, and riding

The American Quarter Horse is, without doubt, the most popular breed in the United States.

Horse Canada state that as of 2017, there were nearly 3 million registered worldwide.

The breed began some 500 years ago when the Spanish brought Arabian, Iberian, and Barb horses to the United States. 

Breeding these horses with native Chickasaws and later, English Thoroughbreds created the small, fast, and agile horse we know today.

Being a highly popular ranch horse, cowboys would work their Quarter Horses during the week and race them at the weekend.

In fact, this breeds speed is how it got its name, as a quarter of a mile was the typical distance for sprint races.

White (light gray) is one of the official colors for these beautiful horses, but they come in a wide variety of colors. Sorrel (reddish-brown) is the most common.

10. Shagya Arabian Horse

  • Coat: White, gray, chestnut, and bay
  • Demeanor: Steady
  • Height: 15 – 16 hands
  • Great at: Jumping, dressage, driving, and riding

I turned to the Fédération Équestre Internationale to find out more about this beautiful white horse breed. 

Here’s what they had to say… 

The Shagya Arabian story began in Hungary in the 18th Century when the military bred large native horses with Bedouin Arabians.

They set out to create a heavy horse suitable for cavalry and carriage work that had the endurance of the Arabian. 

The Shagya gets its name from a Bedouin Arabian stallion named Shagya. His DNA is present in every Shagya Arabian breeding line since 1836.

Today, Shagya Arabians can be found worldwide, but breeding is still predominantly centered in Europe.

11. Cremello Horses

I’m cheating a little bit by mentioning Cremello horses on this list of white horse breeds as they aren’t actually a breed at all.

You see, Cremello is a coloration that can be found in any breed of horse.

A Cremello’s cream color is the result of a genetic trick, which essentially takes their chestnut base color and dilutes it to cream. 

Albino and Palamino horses are the results of similar genetic phenomena, although there a subtle differences in the resulting appearance.

As well as a cream coat, Cremellos have pink skin, blue eyes, and a white mane and tail. The blue eyes are one way to tell them apart from Albino horses.

They don’t have a specific history or temperament as this varies from breed to breed; Cremello is purely a reference to genetic coloration.

FAQs about White horse Breeds

What is a true white horse?

While many horses are referred to as being white, they are generally light grey. A true white horse is born with unpigmented skin and a white coat. A grey horse will typically have black skin.

What is the rarest color of horse?

True white is the rarest color of horse. Many horses that are considered to be white are, in fact, gray. True white horses are born with a white coat that stays white for life.

Why is a white horse called gray?

Many horses that look white are actually gray. A gray horse may start life with a black or chestnut coat which fades over time due to a predominant gray gene. A similar thing happens to horses that have the cream gene.

Conclusion

With so many beautiful white horse breeds out there, we ended up with quite the list.

You’ve been able to learn a little about each of the breeds and how they came to be. With histories ranging from 100 years to a thousand, white horses have been around for a long time.

Some breeds of horses exist in such low numbers it’s hard to know if they’ll be around for much longer. Thankfully, other white horse breeds are thriving, and efforts are underway to preserve those that aren’t.

There’s a breed of horse out there to suit everyone. If white is your preferred color, you now have a great list of 11 beautiful horse breeds to choose from.

References

  • “About Connemara Ponies – American Connemara Pony Society.” n.d. American Connemara Pony Association. Accessed May 19, 2021. https://acps.org/about-connemara-ponies/.
  • “ACDHA | American Cream Draft Horse Association.” n.d. American Cream Draft Horse Association. Accessed May 19, 2021. https://acdha.org/.
  • “Breed Profile: The Shagya-Arabian.” 2021. FEI.org. February 26, 2021. https://www.fei.org/stories/lifestyle/my-equestrian-life/breed-profile-shagya-arabian.
  • “Camargue.” n.d. International Museum of the Horse. Accessed May 19, 2021. http://imh.org/exhibits/online/breeds-of-the-world/europe/camargue/.
  • “Camarillo White Horse Association – Home of the Camarillo White Horses.” n.d. Www.camarillowhitehorses.org. Accessed May 19, 2021. http://www.camarillowhitehorses.org/index.htm.
  • “Cremello Horses.” n.d. Www.horse-Genetics.com. Accessed May 19, 2021. https://www.horse-genetics.com/cremello-horses.html.
  • “Home Page.” n.d. PHAOA. Accessed May 19, 2021. https://www.percheronhorse.org/.
  • “Horse Breed: Boulonnais.” 2017. Globetrotting. March 27, 2017. https://www.globetrotting.com.au/horse-breed-boulonnais/.
  • “The History and Origins of the Lipizzan Horse.” n.d. Www.lipizzan.org. http://www.lipizzan.org/aboutlipizzans.html.
a beautiful white horse with grasses and sunset background

Which of the white horse breeds is your favorite? Tell me in the comments below!

Barry Stingmore
Barry Stingmore

Barry Stingmore is a British content writer living in Fuerteventura, Spain. An animal lover at heart, he shares his home with a dog and four rescue cats and has a passion for writing about animals big and small.

He has only ridden a horse once but spent a lot of time working alongside them in the British police.

Barry loves finding answers to your animal-related questions, the more research involved the better! You can rely on him to find the facts. You can rely on him to find the facts.

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Find more about him HERE.

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